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Rainbow Nation News

Rainbow Nation News image
Parent Issue
Day
12
Month
November
Year
1971
OCR Text

(LNS) - Lnto a record industry just about completely gobbled up by the conglomérate ogres comes a small people-oriented group from Chicago, brave in spirit and short on capital , hoping to créate the first non-ripoff record production and distribution set-up on a national lev el. Good Records is making lots of promises: low prices, big royalties, easy-going contracts, and artistic freedom. Instead of molding imitations into imitations of imitations, Good Records plans to look for the groups that would never get a chance from the regular commercial industry and the groups that never get near a recording studio for fear that hype and hustle will destroy the energy that endears them to their local crowds. Maybe it's important to explain just how a regular record company works. Most people probably don 't know and Rolling Stone ain't ever gonna teil. Unless you are the most fantastic rookie of the season, you can 't get a contract with a record company without sigr,ing away your talents for the next five years. A company will generally demand a üveyear contract and the last four years are one-year options. They can dump you any year they want but you can 't get loose for five years without their permission. Your contract says they have to record a certain number of records, and release them, but they can just print a few and throw them into some alleyway in Tonopah, Nevada, and that legally constitutes a release Every song you write belongs to them for the next 28 years. They keep half the royalties from airplay, sales of sheetmusic, and cover records by other artists. If you get to be a superstar, you may get a quarter on each record sold but only after all the record expenses are paid off. Even the recording studio rents are charged off to the artist at full rates-even though the companies force the artist to record in their own studio. The costs of pressing the record, printing the jacket and sleeve, distribuüon, and promotion are also racked up to your account. And what sort of music did you turn out? When a company decides to sign a group, it will try to force its own producer on them. The producer is a man who talks to you about your "sound" and your "image". Sometimes he tries to force you to record songs he has written, so that he can get some royalties off the album. But worse is his attempt to mold you into an imitation of whoever happens to be hot at the moment {like John Landau did to the MC5 in 1969-SUN). Culture becomes a straight hype and business scène that embitters the ists who must deal with it and puts their heads into nasty places they never cut loose from. This is an interview with Mike Gold, who is on the production staff of Good Records. It was conducted by the Chicago Seed where Mike used to work. WHAT DOES IT ACTUALLY COST TO PRODUCE A RECORD? WHAT IS THE PROFIT MARGIN- WHO GETS WHAT? I can explain this best in terms of what we did on the record by a Chicago community band called Mountain Bus - the flrst group to record with us - the minimum costs comes down to about $1. 00 an album. Tapes cost about $2.50 each, complete. They're sold for $6. 98 retail; we'U sell them for $3. 98 each. The major labels have large, useless staffs, all of whom get paid. The group gets some bread, but not enough to justify the general high selling price. We cut down the price radically by distributing directly to the record stores and the local distributors; we don 't employ large groups of zombies; we don 't waste a lot of money releasing a dozen records at a shot. When we release a record we believe in it and will back it all the way. We don 't have anything like sommunications satellites or XV stations. HOW MUCH DOES THE GROUP MAKE? If the recording artist is lucky, he will inake as much is 22 cents a copy on a major Label. Good Records minimum rate is 25 cents a copy; this ivould go up when we sell eaough records to cover our expenses. We haven 't sacriEiced anything, we use the saaie studios and pressing plants the expensive companies use. HOW DOES THE REST OF THE RECORDING INDUSTRY, THE KINNEY CORPORATION AND ALL, FEEL ABOUT GOOD RECORDS? Right now, we 're like an ant. We alone can 't forcé them to lower their prices, but since talent gets more money from us and our records are sold for far less (which is a great image for any rising superstar) we can steal some of their artists. People are always going to buy super group records, no matter what the prlce. The Beatles Abbey Road sold well in spite of their $6. 98 list price. WHAT ARE YOUR CONTR - ACTS UKE? Short and very simple. Well pay 25 cents per record - at the lowest - and the group promises not to turn around and record the same record for someone else - we don 't own the group for any length of time, although they can 't record for anybody else for a few months ( so a second album by the same artist won 't be in direct competition with the flrst. ) No one is committed to more than one record. HOW DOES THAT AFFECT GOOD RECORDS? IT SEEMS AS THOUGH IT WOULD BE FAR EASIER TO DEAL WITH A GROUP FOR A FEW YEARS THAN IF YOU HAD THEM FOR JUST ONE RECORD. WHAT IF THEY MAKE ONE GREAT RECORD AND GET GOBBLED UP BY SOMEONE ELSE? The oiüy way the y 11 get gobbled up by someone else is if someone else offers them more bread per record than we do. WHICH ISN'T VERY LDCELY. No, nor does a major label know if a group which sold well at $2. 98 will make it at $5.98. Like I said, the Kinney Corporation is not likely to lower its price. YOU MENTION TH E KINNEY CORPORATION, WHICH OWNS A LOT OF DIFFERENT LABELS. WHO ARE THEY? Kinney is the biggest conglomérate. In terms of records alone, they own Electra, Warner Brothers, Reprise, Atlantic, Ateo, Cotillion, Asylum ( a new label which will have Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Laura Nyro and Joni Mitchell ) and Nonesuch; they also distribute and market Bizarre, Straight, the Rolling Stones label and who knows what else. They also own Warner Brothers movies, Superman comic books, Mad magazine, a publishing house, parking lots, rent-a-car agencies and funeral parlors, among other things, I think theyVe got a bid on the government as well. If the government ever goes bankrupt, Kinney will be there to buy it. Every major label is owned by a conglomérate which owns a lot of other shit. They're businessman. Rock went through a real bad depression last year. Only establishod supergroups were recorded and the conglomérales started making cuts - no experimentation, more live records - and, because they lost money, they raised the list price from $4.98 to $5.98. That's supposed to sell more records? People are forced to shell out more money for the same oíd stuff. THE NAME OF THE COJVLFANY WHICH OWNS GOOD RECORDS IS CALLED "THE PEOPLE 'S ART CORPORATION. " WHAT MAKES IT A PEOPLE-ORIENTATED THING, IN A POLITICAL SENSE? From a politica! standpoint, I think, there are three points. These are the reality of paying less, over two dollars less. Lightening the burden off the people 's ass can 't be a bad thing. On the secod level, Good Records is providing an alternative to the conglomérate vultures. The proüts from Good Records, when we make any, will be invested in another project. Among other things, we 're talking about inexpensive concerts at an established place, like the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. Of course, we ain't nowhere near profits yet. Concerts would be a natural thing, from community record stores to a people's record label to community concerts. Lasüy, there is musical level, which is necessarily political in itself tastes. We're looking for non-commercial sounds, experimental sounds, not just Elton Taylor schlockrock. The culture has to progress, it cannot. be allowed to stagnate. A friend of mine who works for a conglomérate called this product "revolutionary, " and I'm sure that's how the industry regards us. There 's no way in the world you're going to bring about revolutionary change soiely throiigh music, but you can provide a strong culture base to bring about that type of awareness. And that's what wc 're trying to do.